Jessie Lavallee

Owner – Altona, Manitoba Division

I grew up dreaming of a life that involved being surrounded by animals. If you asked me in elementary school or junior high who I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you that I wanted to be someone who worked with animals. I took every opportunity and made every opportunity I could to be close to any animal. Once I got to high school my career vision changed a bit, but it didn’t take long for me to find my way back to where it all started… animals.

Throughout high school and after graduation I worked as a Direct Service Provider for Adults with physical and mental disabilities. I got my very first, very own dog the summer that I graduated from high school, a little 8-week-old black and white Pug mix named Kylie. After having worked as a DSP for numerous years I thought my calling in life was to help humans, so I attended the University of Manitoba to get my Nursing degree. Nursing wasn’t for me, but little did I know at the time that years down the road I would still be “helping humans.”

The next path I took in life was one that changed my life forever. I got a job as a doggie daycare attendant at one of Winnipeg’s most prestigious dog care facilities. I worked in the daycare for 3 months until I decided to try my hand at dog grooming. I started as a bather/prepper and quickly worked my way up to become a finishing groomer. I was lucky to have been mentored by some of Manitoba’s top Master Groomers. During my time working in Winnipeg I welcomed a German Shepherd puppy named Oakley into my life. We trained/competed in obedience, rally obedience, agility, herding, conformation, therapy dog work and more. I’ve done a lot with dogs, seen a lot of places and met a lot people but I never knew what I was in for when I met a lady named Debbi McArthur at local conformation shows.

I remember the very weekend at a dog show in Kenora when we all sat around in a circle listening to Debbi talk about her experience at Cesar Millans “Training Cesars Way” at his Dog Phycology Centre in California. I sat in awe listening to her talk so fondly of someone that I grew up watching on tv and admiring. Shortly after I asked Debbi over to my home to help me with a few struggles I was having with my dogs. I was so intrigued by what she had taught me in such a short period of time that I made the drive out to her facility in Portage La Prairie for Oakley to spend the day with her and her daycare crew and to see what it was all about. And the rest is history! I started attending all her events/workshops travelling hours just for the opportunity to learn from her, and eventually our relationship turned into a partnership where I would be her helping hand during events which developed in a 6-year long mentorship.

In September 2014 I moved back home and opened my very own grooming shop in Altona MB called A Furry Tail Ending.

Winter 2017 Oakley and I hopped onto a plane to Kelowna BC (where Debbi was living/working at the time) to live/mentor under Debbi for two weeks. We hiked with her Daycare crew in the mountains 3 days a week, joined her workshops and all of her in home private training sessions. When we returned home I added daycare pack walks to A Furry Tail Endings services which was a huge hit and I’ve had so much fun walking my pack of dogs through town seeing so many people smile and stop and ask “how do you do it?”.  Summer 2017 I joined the Prairieburn K9 Academy team as a Contracted Trainer, and Winter 2018 I became the Owner of Praireburn K9 Academy Pembina Valley Division!

My journey that led me to where I am today has been one heck of an amazing ride. I have learnt something from every experience I’ve been through. I am thankful to many people who have influenced my passion and my career but my Prairieburn family is like no other. Debbi and Anthony are the people who “fan my flame”, we keep each other’s passion for helping dogs burning. I am thankful for past, eager about the present and excited  for the future of Prairieburn K9 Academy.

Jessie is also the owner of A Furry Tail Ending grooming salon and a Big Country Raw distributor.  She can be reached at 204-304-9229 and [email protected]